"It was like investigating a murder in Brigadoon," thinks the aptly named but thoroughly hacked-off DCI John Marvel as he struggles to solve the sudden crimewave in Shipcott, a moorland village in Somerset with a rapidly declining population. The trouble starts when a disabled old woman is smothered in her bed, and then gets worse, culminating in the murders of three elderly residents of Sunset Lodge: not so much a killing, by this stage, more of a cull, thinks Marvel. With his rage and his wet shoes and his outrageous theories, Marvel is the best character in this gripping story of a small community paralysed by secrets, snow and murders. He provides a necessary antidote to the apparently saintly local bobby, Jonas Holly and his adored, terminally ill wife Lucy. Bauer won wide acclaim for her first novel, Blacklands; she can do tragic brilliantly and she can do grim, but every now and then humour breaks into the tale – and she does that almost best of all.